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tv   Great Decisions in Foreign Policy  PBS  February 25, 2011 9:00pm-9:29pm PST

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david? >> i think with everything that's changed in the world, one thing that's still true is that what america says and does matters as much or more as every other country in the world. what's happened to american power is just part of what's happened to power in the world everywhere. its become less concentrated and more defused. that makes it harder for america to get what it's seeking, but it doesn't affect the fact that america has the job of being a global leader, of sitting at the center of the system hopefully helping promote peace and prosperity, uh, generally. it just has to do, work a lot smarter and, uh, be less self absorbed, less self righteous and, uh, more self aware, more engaged. and what i think, to be effective, that we're gonna find is that as the world shrinks and becomes more interdependent, america can't stand above and apart.
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it, it has to be in there, uh, you know, with its, with its sleeves rolled up. >> richard gowen, you've indicated that you think u.s. power is in decline. >> i agree with a lot of what david just said, and i think two or three years ago before the financial crisis, i would have agreed 100%, but not anymore. i think the financial crisis has massively shaken global faith in the u.s. as a leader. that's compounded a lot of the ill feeling left over from iraq. and frankly, we're seeing trade flows, we're seeing investment flows that are empowering countries like china, like india, like brazil, ultimately at the expense of the u.s. and yes, the u.s. is still power number one, but it is sliding and it is going to continue to lose power, and as david said, find it harder to get its own way. >> a former american secretary of state, madeleine albright once described the united states as an indispensable nation. she called it the indispensable nation.
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richard, is it still indispensable? >> on many issues, yes. but if you're the chinese leadership, you want to dispense with the u.s. in the pacific, for example. even if you're, um, the brazilian leadership, which is much more pro-american, you would actually like a reduced american role across, um, across, across latin america. and so there are mountain crushers gradually mounting, often very hard to observe, but they are, they are contributing to a trend, um, that we simply can describe as american decline. >> david, is there a substitute on the, uh, in the wings? who's going to be the indispensable nation, if anyone? >> i don't think there is. a lot of the debate about china is about just this. is china proposing some sort of beijing consensus to replace the washington consensus about, uh, about free markets and, uh, i, i don't think so. i think what we see from china, uh, much more is
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sort of free ridin uh, let the u.s. be the global leader, we really just want to worry about stability at home. so, um, i, uh, i think the contrast between my view and, and richard has to do with how much we see a competitive dynamic, maybe more on richard's part, whereas, i really do think that interdependence is, is the, uh, the driving dynamic of today's world. >> now let me follow up on a question, on a point that you made a couple moments ago, and that is about the u.s. responsibility for the world financial crisis, and you talked about how it's undermined, uh, credibility on the part of the united states around the world. let's check in with our great decisions group in connecticut and see what they say about that. >> u.s. government treasury securities, um, are still the, sort of the gold standard. for if any flight to safety that occurs when there's turbulence in the international economy, i think that shows that, in the long run, uh, that
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people who are making decisions about economic power and economic future still see the itedtates as the predominant power. >> the dominance of the united states, which was very high in the last say, five decades, uh, is going to diminish, not because we have stopped growing, but the other countries are growing a lot more than we are. >> what i see on college campuses are a younger generation growing up, is a culture of entitlement because of america's hubris. i mean, the notion that we've always been a world power and will continue to be is based on, on very little. and what the other, what the speakers that we saw were testing to both of them is the notion of our self absorption and, um, and that we need to become a little more self critical in order to improve our country. so i think it's a good thing that we're taking the time to examine this question. >> we, in fact, have a lot of sovereign debt ourself and japan and china are in fact buying our t-bills.
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so the prescriptive medicine that we are offering to the other countries is becoming less palatable uh, if we do not abide by it ourselves. and to that degree, i think uh, every country's listening to us with a grain of salt. >> i am hopeful that america, you know, will come back stronger as we always do because we are a country of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs and innovators and that's what tends to help us rebound from these types of situations. >> a lot of people around the world, even experts on financial matters around the world have concluded that the u.s. was responsible for kicking off the current economic and financial crisis. how much has that damaged u.s. influence and power in that sphere? >> the u.s. has definitely taken a credibility hit here. there are valid questions about the u.s. model. the, uh, american financial
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industry has become oversized and under regulated. this sometimes looks more like a, a casino or, or a con game than, than an efficient market. but that's starting to be dealt with. the congressional legislation on wall street regulatory reform has dealt directly with some of those gambling aspects such as the derivative contracts and pulling them into our market. and then recently, at an international level, banking regulators came together and set new capitol requirements so that there is more backing and less leverage and debt in, in the markets. >> richard as you know, the united states, for years, goes around the world telling other countries how they should organize their finances, what they should do with their monetary policy, their debt, uh, and their investment and so on. is anybody gonna pay y attention anymore to the united states when it eaks on th subject? >> the funny thing is, is that a huge number
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of rising economies, not least china, took america's advice. we have a world of americas now, a world of capitalist economies. the problem is that they are out-producing us at a huge rate, and that's not only true in terms of manufacturing and mining and so forth, but also in terms of increasingly intellectual economic development. i think it is now true to say that china is now registering more patents than even the u.s. and china is also investing morend more in other countries while the u.s. faces growing debt. and so the american medicine's worked too well from a certain perspective. >> do you think that other countries like china have concluded that they know how to do it better or as well as the u.s. or does the u.s. still have an edge in any way, in your opinion, in terms of innovating the new ideas that, uh, others, as you've indicated, have already copied? >> the u.s. is still a leader in many areas, and especially if you look at silicon valley, if you look at, um,
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communications technology, i.t.,the u.s. is still out in the lead, but we're increasingly coming up with ideas that then make other countries money because they are producing the gadgets that, um, are designed in the u.s. >> and david, what about things like the world bank and the international monetary fund which of course, had their major headquarter offices in the united states and for a long time have had a u.s. tint to their advice and their activities and so on? are other countries gonna salute and say, yes sir, when the united states, when the world bank tells them how to do something with their economy? have we lost credibility in that area? >> i think the jury's still out on one of the important issues in, in the old washington consensus which is the, the question of the role of the state and, and size of government. and, uh, i, you know, i don't think the u.s. can, can claim to have all the answers on that or, or anything else. the one area in which china
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has not copied the u.s. in which we, we really need to, for the sake of the global economy and that is, domestic consumer consumption. we have a major imbalance in terms of, and it has everything to do with why there is so much debt in the u.s. with a very consumer demand oriented economy in the u.s. and, uh, you know, a totally export oriented economy in not only china, but other countries such as germany, and that's why you get, so much debt on one side of the equation and so much savings on the other. so the, the u.s. isn't the only one responsible for the, for keeping a healthy global economy going. >> we mentioned, all of us mentioned earlier in the program, the role that, u.s. military power has played in american credibility. let's ask our great decisions group in connecticut about whether the wars in afghanistan and iraq in the last ten years have contributed in some way to undermining u.s. power
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in the world. >> the war in iraq, uh, was a tremendous display of our technology, and certainly with the "shock and awe" phase of that war, it was extremely impressive. i, i don't think that we have many rivals in terms of technology. afghanistan is a different war. uh, it's not so much on technology. certainly we use it, but not to the degree i think that, that we saw. i think afghanistan is gonna be more of a trial of our leadership and our combat experience, and it's a different type of war than what we fought, um, in iraq, i think. >> i would not say that our military power is declining just because we are struggling in iraq and afghanistan. i, i think we're still eminently the highest military power in the world, and the fact that we're not exercising that power as much, which emanates from the fact
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that we don't want to be spilling more blood abroad and to be using our manpower and our equipment, does not make it so that we are not a military power. we are still the highest military power in the world. >> there is no question in my mind, the american military power is not in decline. now what may be in decline is our ability to project that power in meaningful ways to achieve the goals we want. so using a blunt instrument may not always achieve what we want. >> in terms of our ability to project force across the world and our ability to deploy the most technological weapons, in terms of, you know, fighting spirit and ability, i think our adversaries now realize that with very, very cheap and simple tools they can make america's life in the field very difficult. >> the wars in afghanistan and iraq have taken their toll in a variety of ways over the last ten years. has one of them been on u.s. power credibility in its military form
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around the world? richard. >> i think we have to be really careful. if we'd been sitting here in the 1970's, we'd be talking about the enduring damage of vietnam to american power, and america bounced back. but frankly, yes, iraq and afghanistan have massively strained our alliances with nato countries. um, if you look at any european political debate today, one constant will be the need to get troops out of afghanistan as fast as possible. that's even true in traditional allies like, like britain. and so, um, these wars have really corroded, america's military alliances in the west. >> but talking about getting troops out of afghanistan isn't the same thing as saying the united states hasn't got it anymore. >> i mean, in pure hardware terms, uh, the u.s. definitely does have it, but there's so a suspicion that, financial pressures, budgetary pressures are going to force the pentagon
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to gradually shrink american armed fors. our allies probably won't be there for us in the same way in future wars, and other powers, as i mentioned before, like, like china, um, are increasing their, their military spending. now this doesn't mean you're gonna see a collapse in u.s. military power, this is going to take a long time as the military balance shifts. but it is starting to shift against the u.s. >> david, are there other players on the scene who will step up militarily, i'm speaking about now, and fill the void, if, if you agree that uh, that there is a void created by the wars in afghanistan and iraq? >> well, i agree with a lot of what richard's said, including this idea that we're talking, you know, for many of these things about a long time horizon. what i'd add is the, the larger context of the relationship between u.s. hard power and the international order. now i've been talking today about a self awareness rather than self absorption
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and self righteousness, and i, i think the dynamic to watch is, you know, a lot of the rest of the world looks at u.s. policies and sees them as sort of pet peeves and pet concerns, you know, very self serving, and some of it is. but the dynamic to watch is that, you know, the united states has a unique perspective on stability on the global order, and some of the things in this area that the u.s. is concerned about - uh, think primarily of the iranian nuclear program - really do have a wider context of, of the global order. in that case, it's not just about this relationship between america and iran, it's about keeping the, the nuclear nonproliferation norm in tact so we don't have a spread to more and more countries and regional nuclear arms races in the middle east and, and that will be the thing to watch, the extent to which america is able to convince others
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that they should share in some of these concerns. >> and will others step up to the plate and share those concerns? >> i think we're starting to see it. i've been watching the iran case very much, sort of as a microcosm of this overall problem, and i think the shift, particularly of russia's position in this area, is a positive indicator that that sense of being responsible global stake holders- a phrase we hear used for china but we could use it for any powerful country, including the u.s. i think we're, we are seeing that kind of sensitivity especially with russia in the, uh, in the iran case. >> richard, let me ask you this. are there people around the world today who used to be afraid of us, but who arnow saying, paper tiger, don't need to worry about it? >> i certainly think, that if you're a, a terrorist movement, in a, in a weak or,
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or failing state, um... >> afghanistan, yemen... >> somalia. >> somalia. >> i mean, actually u.s. forces are, are operating in all those places, but its clear that, you know, terrorists are going to continue to fighting this fight because they believe that over the long term, they can wear american will down. if you look at government, um, i look at it in a slightly different way. imagine you are sitting in delhi. um, indian policy makers are genuinely concerned about the possibility of a war with china, like the one that they fought in the 1960's. if there was a war with china tomorrow, would the u.s. play any role? would american forces be rushed to the himalayas to fight on one side or the other? no. and so if you are an indian policy maker or a chinese policy maker, the u.s. doesn't really matter to that rivalry in the way that it might have done 10 or 15 years ago. >> the u.s. is effectively out of that equation algether. >> yeah, and that makes those countries, uh, feel they have to arm up,
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to fight each other, not to fight the u.s. but potentially to fight each other. >> here's a part of the equation we haven't talked about yet, which is the question of moral high ground in the military and human rights and civil rights field. uh, so let's ask our great decisions group in connecticut about the question of whether the u.s. has lost any of that moral high ground in light of the fact that the u.s. has engaged in recent years and some of the kinds of activities that the u.s. used to criticize other countries for? >> when we talk about american power, we can't just contain it to talking about american military power or american economic power. i feel that the true power that america has is america's culture and i feel america's culture is kind of omnipotent at this point. i feel as if america's culture is oftentimes intentionally usurped by other countries
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and cultures. umi fe like, it's oftentimes just unknowingly absorbed into other countries and other cultures, and although that power isn't really definable and quantifiable in the way that military and economic power are, those changes that get embedded into an existing culture are huge. >> we ask other countries to sign on to nonproliferation, but we are not reducing our, our nuclear stockpile. um, there are many, many ways and examples that i think we don't set a tone for the rest of the world. we just really don't. >> americans, uh, certainly would always like to think that we have the moral high ground, that we go to war only when provoked and provoked seriously,
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perhaps, attacked first. uh, so i think there-- we had perhaps, um, incredible, but nonetheless predictable results in iraq and afghanistan and it has slipped away somewhat from what our self-perception might be. my guess is that in actually talking with, uh, foreign friends, have much more realpolitik kind of point of view of u.s. behavior, and perhaps a little more suspicious of it than we might view ourselves. >> david, every year, the united states issues a human rights report and the u.s. regularly criticizes other countries for civil rights, humanitarian iues and so on and so forth. in the past ten years or so, do you think the u.s. has lost any of that moral high ground in light of the revelations about its conduct in the war on terror? >> here again, there's definitely a getting, getting house in order
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repair job for america's image, no question about it. especially with the issues relating to detainees. i'm watching particularly this question of whether america's regular court system, whether our justice system is going to be trusted, to, to try terrorists. i think that's a, a crucial test of the, of the rule of law, whether we believe in our own system. >> richard, what do you think? has the united states lost moral credibility in the context of its actions during the two wars? >> it has, but what worries me is that rather than, attempting to resolve some of those problems, a lot of u.s. politicians are actually making them worse by adopting an increasingly strident anti-islamic rhetoric. whatever youhought of president bush, he was actually very positive about islam in all his statements. over the last couple of years, we've seen a number of politicians start to be,
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um, really virulent in their anti-islamic rhetoric, and that i think will do the u.s. a huge amount of harm because the u.s. is not looking, like a global leader that is open to all. it, it starts to look like a chauvinist country that, really does hate islam and that's, um, that would be a disaster for america. >> befe we leave the topic, i would like to ask you about a couple of other things like civil rights, death penalty, for example, is a big factor in a lot of other countries when they look at the united states, and the u.s. education system. how do we fare, richard, in those arenas as when others look at the united states? >> let's pick up on education, because that is one area where the u.s. actually is still predominant. i think in tables of all the top universities around the world, the u.s. is normally home to 18 of the top 20, um, and this makes it very, very appealing to foreign students, and knowledge is power
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and imparting knowledge is powerful. >> david, recently, the united states was ranked number 11 in terms of education in a popular magazine. do you think that's an unfair characterization, or does that sort of thing spread itself around the world? >> no matter where you set the ranking of america's secondary and primary education, this poses a definite and urgent challenge at multiple levels. uh, you know america's educational system is, is about training the work force for tomorrow, meeting the competition challenges, competitiveness challenges that richard raised earlier. now it is also a test of america's willingness to nvest in its future, to take that kind of a strategic perspective, and the domestic debates about, about budgets, and, uh, the role of government are, are very directly connected to whether, whether we're gonna take that kind of perspective. >> david shorr of the stanley foundation and richard gowan of the center
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for international cooperation at new york university. thank you both for being with us on great decisions. thank you for being with us as well on great decisions, and special thanks to our group in connecticut. to join a great decisions group yourself, visit we'll see you next week, i'm ralph begleiter. >> to order a dvd of this series, visit visit or call 1-800-playpbs. [instrumental music] >> great decisions is produced by the foreign policy association, inspiring americans to learn morebout the world. great decisions is produced in association with the university of delaware. sponsorship of great decisions is provided by price waterhouse coopers, llp, the aarp office of international affairs, and the european commission. >> clearly, the united states is still the preeminentstates military, cultural and economic leader in the world,
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but it's a dangerous precipice that we're on. >> the educational system is going to be a driving force. we are going to need a more educated work force. the kind of jobs which are going abroad, which are being outsourced are the ones which do not require so much education as we are able to provide our own people here. >> we've gotta be bold about our future and make sure that not only are we competitive, but we're investing always in our people. if we make it, uh, in america then all americans are if we make it, uh, in america then all americans are gonna make it. [instrumental music] closed captions byaptionlink www.captionlink.m
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ow! of course. thank you. i'd call her honeydew goodbody, not lisa. the very fact that she is called lisa proves that she exists.
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ignatiy: welcome to ebert presents at the movies. i'm ignatiy vishnevetsky of christy: and i'm christy lemire of the associated press. ignatiy: the farrelly brothers are back with their comedy hall pass christy: plus, roger takes a look at gael garcia bernal's new film even the rain christy: our first movie this week is >> i'll just get the ball rolling. >> hello. >> hello. >> hola. >> excuse me. >> do you think at this time napkins smell like chloroform. i'm kidding. cacan i buy you a drink?
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christy: our first movie this week is "hall pass," the latest "comedy" -- and yes, i'm putting that word in quotes -- from the farrelly brothers. peter and bobby farrelly, as a writing-directing team, haven't made a truly, deeply, nny movie since "there's something about mary?" and that was back in 1998. "stuck on you" had its moments. but "fever pitch" never built up any real heat -- and i say that even as a boston red sox fan. so now we have "hall pass," starring owen wilson and jason sudeikis as a couple of geeky, middle-aged suburban husbands who can't help checking out every sexy woman they see. their wives, played by jenna fischer and christina applegate, ag


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